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Wednesday, 02 December 2020


I thought you’d be over the moon, Mike! Exactly what I thought you were asking for recently.

Back in the day, I bought a Pentax Spotmatic at an Army PX (at a great PX price) with what was then the "kit" -- 35, 50 135. I've always thought 50mm was the blandest of focal lengths, and when I look at metadata on the zooms I use, it's about the least used. Unlike you, I always liked lenses around 70mm. Not exactly "long," but a nice image when you're standing back a bit from your target. I also like to walk around with an 85, which I find congenial for much more than portraits. I think some people simply see a little long; and some, a little short. I wouldn't want to have to prove it, but I wouldn't be surprised that if you looked at people who got their experience shooting for news media, most see long, and of people who shoot "art," most see wide.

The 65mm is indeed weird. Even when 35-70mm zooms were the norm (yeah, I'm that old) I never felt the long end offered anything of value. Even a moderately fast 50mm offered better selective focus than the slow zooms of those times.

However, I have learned to embrace the 75mm equivalent focal length. The crop sensor Fujifilm with its excellent 50mm makes a nice mini kit when teamed with a 23mm or 16mm.

That 65mm at full aperture would allow nice but not overwhelming selective focus. But I always pair my lenses based on the OTHER lens. Don't know if the spread is enough from 35mm.

The Pentax FA 43 on APSC is equivalent to 65 on FF. . . I really like that focal length, and it is true that I mostly use if for environmental portraits (of my kids and pets).

I hope to soon have a Pentax K to Fuji xf adaptor so I can use it (together with it's big brother, the FA 77) on the XT-3.

" the superspeed lens fad is fun but it's getting a little out of hand." –Mike

Ya think?

Andrew of the Danae and Andrew YouTube Channel, who is also a marketing survey professional, conducted a survey of a series of photographs shot at various apertures ranging from f/1.2 and up back in Oct. 2018. His conclusion: Lesson 1: The strength of a photograph is not measured by the amount of background blur. Lesson 2: The average person cannot tell the differences between photographs taken at difference of a couple aperture stops, even when they are specifically looking for differences, and that most people preferred a bit more definition in the background that a f/2.8 or f/4 lens might provide. and Lesson 3) Participants were much more concerned with how well focused the subject was, rather than how blurred out the background was.

Imagine that.

Link here: https://youtu.be/yp9UvIYyT70

BTW, nice to see TOP content returning to the subject of....Photography.

[Funny, I would have said my post here is NOT about photography.

P.S. I agree with Andrew's survey. --Mike]

...I wonder about the choice of a 65mm focal length....

I have Sigma Art 35mm, 50mm and 85mm lenses in Nikon F mount for use with my D810. Some time ago I wrote to the company imploring it to release one around 65mm too. Those of us shooting landscapes in the West are frequently constrained to certain camera positions. I use this system like a view camera, namely, on a tripod, prime lenses for maximum performance, live view and magnifying for precise manual focus. Perhaps Sigma will offer what I sought. Or not. :-)

To each his own, I guess.

The 24/3.5 is quite intriguing. 7 ounces, focuses to 4 inches (2:1 reduction if used as full-frame). That one doesn't deserve your weight-shaming.

Where have you seen sampe pictures?

I find it a little curious that people today consider the use of "normal" focal lengths - or even wider - as the tools of choice for shooting portraits. I suppose that the term portrait requires some kind of definition, so for me, in my peculiar photographic lexicon, that would probably be best described as the area covered by passport shots: from about upper mid-chest; like the shampoo ads: head 'n' shoulders.

In 135 format terms, legitimate use would just include a 105mm lens, with the 135mm taking pride of place as being neither too long to induce foreshortening, not short enough to create distortion when used to cover the stated area of a person's body.

Using shorter lenses could, I guess, be legitimate when the objective is to make a broader picture showing the subject in its environment: an artist at the easel, for example, or a mechanic working on an engine, though I must say, Herb Ritts saw those things with a different eye and had a propensity towards tyres rather than raised hoods, and for curiously, carelessly shiny men.

With 6x6 cameras, I'd suggest that the 150mm focal length is just, just that bit short. Before I could afford my 500C I was making do with a Mamiya TLR and a 180mm lens. On eventually getting that 'blad, I could only buy the 150mm because the next longer lens was a 250mm, too long for my studio needs. The 180mm simply didn't exist. At once I realised that 150mm Zeiss was too short, that it was impossible almost to fill the negative with a head unless with the cruel intention of making comedy/mocking pix.

Before anyone bothers to mention it, yeah, I've also seen the videos of Avedon with his standard 80mm Rollei doing exactly what I do not recommend. But first look at those images before you come to any conclusions about efficacy. Kindness can reside in your technique, but first you gotta be feeling kindly disposed.

People require considerations that mere objects do not. Shoot a close-up of a square box with a wide-angle lens and it looks dramatic; do the same with your wife's face and pretty darned soon you'll be sleeping alone.


[Just to be clear, I meant to say that 65mm-e is too short for general portrait shooting, not too long. But thank you for the rundown! --Mike]

BTW, I think it’s actually the “L-Alliance”, not a consortium. 😉

[Thanks, fixed. --Mike]

I'd like a 90-100mm prime lens equivalent for my APS-C Sonys, so that 65mm might fit the bill.

When I saw the title, I thought you were going to write about the three Sigma lenses in the same series, but for APS-C cameras 16mm 30mm and 56mm all f/1.4). These were recently released in L mount as well, and make perfect and low cost options for the Leica CL.

The lenses you actually did write about will surely also work on the CL with no problems. In this case they would be equivalents of 35mm, 50mm, and 100mm. Very sensible, and perhaps another reason for the strange choice of 65mm. Leica's CL is now becoming a well supported camera.

I agree that 60-75mm is neither fish nor fowl.
If they had introduced a 90 or 100mm lens at f2, or even f2.8, I'd have been all over it.
I'm a little mystified too by the push to faster and faster, and more and more enormous lenses. We all have access to astronomical ISO speeds, and my experience is consistent with Andrew's: people actually prefer a little definition in the background.

I was an early buyer of the Sigma FP with the 45mm lens, which was the only one available at the time in this series. I quite like the combination, and think its pretty remarkable in both operation and image quality once you accept that you will compose by screen. These new lenses fill out the usefulness of this design to a decent degree, because you need the smallish, and more importantly, light lenses to balance well with the small body.

As to lens length, I've found that it's pretty fun to change regular lengths every once in a while. I shot a number of days of political conventions using a 60mm equivalent on my Pentax gear. It brought a different look to what I was seeing. I probably wouldn't buy the Sigma 65mm for use with the FP because I have other lenses with other cameras, but I would and probably will get the 35/2.

You haven't written anything about the FP BTW, you ought to. It feels like nothing else in the hand. It's processing engine seems spot on, pretty quick AF, it's quite the dream camera for walkabout, lackadaisical photography.

I meant to add before I clicked "post," that Kirk T seems in like with the FP, though to be fair, he's a bit like a moody teenager when it comes to cameras.

Long-normal (65mm-e) is good. On my Fujis, I love to use the Voigtlander 40mm: for street, family, city environments. Not all the time, but occasionally.

The long-normal is clearly not a tele yet, but it does give the slightest hint of compression, it quietens the tone. Similar to having a conversation with someone who is able to allow for pauses and silences, without the need to talk all the time; the long-normal lens has that same quiet self assurance.

Paul Strand was forced by his Graflex to use 60mm-e, I think. He wanted shorter but the mirror mechanism didn't allow it,so he made the long-normal part of his vision.

As it happens, I love the short-normal (40mm-e) too, not on the same day but as an alternative. Exactly the same subtle shift in perspective as with the long-normal, only at the wide side. The short-normal is not as busy as the 35-mm, but it offers a subtle recognition of a wider scope.

I have a 35 and 60 for Leica R, and a 35 and 75 for Leica M. Those are good combinations. 50 is too close and 90 or 105 a bit too far. 35 has always been my preferred focal length, but sometimes you need something a bit longer. It is good to have choices, there is no need for one person to buy all of them.

99.99% of all product photography on 4X5 is done with the 210mm lens, and it has little to do with bellows, since most studio people have "triple bellows" on their cameras (i.e. around 18 inches).

The lens size is slightly long, so that multiple items in a product shot do not vary greatly from their 'real' size, front to back, in relation to each other; BUT, it is not so long that you can't get everything in focus by using your swings and tilts, and the aperture. Also you don't want the lens to be so wide as to also have trouble making sure the sides of the background are not visible! It is the most perfect lens for product photography, and I actually ended up owning more than one, from Computar, to Nikon, to Red Dot Artar (8.25 inch)!

Let us not forget that the actual diagonal of the 35mm film frame is about 44mm (if I'm remembering right), so that makes the 40mm closer to "natural" than your 50mm to 58mm! I'm betting the 60-65mm is actually damn close to the 127mm on a Mamiya RB, a lens over the years I've come to love for portraits unless I'm doing a tight close-up. Over the years, commercially, I've taken more portraits on the Hasselblad "normal" 80mm, just because the clients wanted to see people in their environment, especially for annual reports.

Rob Campbell...ditto for me...I shot with 'blad for years, and I originally purchased the "kit" most often seen, of 50, 80, 150. I had to additionally buy the 250, because I found the 150 a 'tad' short for some portraits. Then they made the 180, but I already owned too much stuff! Think of the 150 on 2.25 square as 'almost' like an 85mm on 35mm, maybe a little short, and the 180mm, like using a 105mm on 35mm. After using this at actual 'work' for 40 years, I think the perfect Hasselblad set up would be the 60, 100, and 180! (50mm being too wide for most of what I shot, the 80mm fine, but could use a little more, and the 180 being the perfect replacement for the 150 and 250).

The Sigma 65mm lens should be perfect for square cropped full frame format(24x24mm) portrait from full body up to head & shoulder. Same angle of view as a 150mm lens in 6x6.

As the neighborhood boys say: "I dood the math", and yep, the 60-65mm format on 35mm is very, very, close to the 127mm on RB, and the 210mm on 4X5. The 50mm on the 35mm format is virtually worthless to me, my favorite lenses being 35mm and 85mm when I'm using that format, and anything I would use the 50mm for could only be better by using the 65!

I think what we're really forgetting here, in the joy of using the Panasonic S series cameras, is the same thing I love about using M4/3rd's: the multiple formats. It shoots 6 different aspect ratios. Why ALL EVF cameras don't do this is a mystery (I'm talking to you Sony). As a 40+ year pro, I loath the 3:2 ratio of 35mm, and celebrate the ability to shoot 4:3, and 1:1 (and everything else) on the M4/3rds and the Panny S series too.

To Amine's point, I love walking around shooting M4/3rd's on "square" like a Rollei, and both the 65mm with the Panny set on "square" sounds like a fun option!

The actual sensor size is what it is; multiple aspect ratios provided by the camera are just in-camera cropping (I've had this on most cameras since my very first digital, an Epson P&S).

If you must shoot to a particular format (commercial requirement) I can see it being desirable to have clear guidelines for it in the viewfinder (or to limit the display to that format); but for general use, leaning to see interesting images in various aspect ratios, and cropping later and at your leisure, seems to make more sense.

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